Top Marketers Share the Most Important Local Ranking Signals to Help Your Business to Be Found on the Map

October 5, 2017 by in category SEO tagged as , , with 0 and 1
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With the rise of mobile devices, and thus mobile searches, local SERP (Search Engine Result Page) and local presence are extremely important in dictating the success of your business.

However, Local SEO strategies are admittedly, easier said than done. There are many factors that can determine Local SERP from the name, address, and phone number (NAP), organic reviews, as well as getting the most of local directories and catalogs, among many others.

 

So, I asked seasoned digital marketers about most important ranking factors and gathered actionable tips, examples of best practices, as well as tips on how to measure your progress. By implementing some of the tips from this post you will optimize your Local SERP and presence.


 

Miriam Ellis – moz.com

Miriam Ellis is a Local Search Associate at Moz.

When aiming for high local pack rankings, there are factors you can and can’t control. The physical location of your business, and the proximity of searchers to your business, are key elements you can’t typically control, but you have either partial of complete control of these six highly influential components:

  • Adherence to Google’s guidelines
  • Correct Google My Business categories
  • Quality and authority of the links pointing to your website
  • Accuracy and consistency of your business listing across the web
  • The overall authority your website builds over time
  • Review count and sentiment

In sum, you want a guideline-compliant, properly optimized Google My Business listing that’s supported by accurate listings on other platforms, and that points to a website which is earning quality links and building authority. And, you want to be sure you’re providing the type of customer service that wins positive reviews, which impact not only rank, but conversions and revenue. Particularly because you can’t usually control your street address, or where a consumer is located at the time he performs a search on his device, you must focus maximum effort on mastering these manageable factors.

 


 

Andrew Seidman – digitalreachagency.com

Andrew is the Head of Operations for Digital Reach Agency, a full-service digital marketing agency for B2B and enterprise companies.

First, make sure your Google My Business listing is robust, including up-to-date contact information, the proper categories, photos, and hours of operation. It should also be consistent with your listings on other important sites, like Yelp, Yahoo, or Bing. This is absolutely essential to rank well locally.

Beyond that bare minimum, local links to your website can help you climb the search rankings and get into that valuable top-tier. Also, local links can be significantly affected by an investment of time and resources, unlike other key factors such as proximity or being nationally known. By making an effort to acquire quality links, local businesses can reap significant rewards.

Finally, with the Pigeon update a couple years ago, performance on major directories (especially Yelp) is growing in importance every day. This is for two reasons: 1) Yelp is a ranking signal itself and 2) directories like Yelp have begun to get more visibility in searches. This is great for consumers, but can be very challenging for businesses and advertisers.

 


 

Philip Westfall – pagecloud.com

Growth Marketer and SEO lead at an up and coming Website Builder called PageCloud. (Finalist @TechCrunch Disrupt NY in 2015)

Ranking in Google’s Local 3-Pack doesn’t have to be complicated. Just like most things in Google’s Algorithm, it comes down to sending the proper rankings signals, and understanding search behavior.

Based on industry research and experiments, here are the most important local ranking signals for 2017:

Business Basics: proximity, categories, hours of operation, NAP and NAP consistency (name, address, phone number), etc. You need to show Google you are a legitimate business and are relevant to a user search query. If not, forget ranking.

Google Reviews: number, quality, and credibility of reviews. Data has shown a high correlation between Google reviews and local search performance.

Social signals: Engagement across social channels. The more people are talking about you, the better.

On-page optimization: Standard best practices apply. Page titles, heading tags, etc.

Link signals (example: 3rd party reviews sites and relevant directories) If you’re a restaurant: you need to have a presence on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Zomato etc. Never underestimate the power of quality backlinks.

In-search behavioral signals: Google is constantly testing snippet and link performance to validate/change rankings. This includes, but is not limited to click-through-rate, time-on-page, check-ins, “pogo-sticking”, etc.

By following these tips, you will maximize your chances at showing up in Google’s Local 3-Pack. If you don’t show up, keep improving these points and updating your content, Google loves fresh content.

 


 

Jason Scott – jcscott.co.uk

Digital marketing specialist and blogger with almost a decade’s worth of industry experience.

In my experience, the most important factor in ranking in local search is the proximity of your address to the point of search. The issue with this is that, you’re unable to influence it or optimise your listing for it

Therefore, the most important local search ranking factor that you are able to influence is ensuring the information on your Google My Business listing is all present, correct and well-optimised. This means making sure that all of the store’s products and services are listed. It also means that your business title needs reflect the actual store name and is not stuffed with keywords. Much like organic search rankings, your store can be penalised if it’s deemed as over-optimised or spammy.

 


 

Mark Nicholson – get.nicejob.co

VP, Marketing

Start by ensuring that your website’s name, address, phone number (NAP) is exactly the same as your Google My Business (GMB) listing’s NAP, along with info on your website, as well as Facebook and Yelp. If you have multiple locations, create a separate page with each of the locations’ name, address, phone number, office hours, etc.
This can make it easier for site visitors looking for a specific location, and could also help you rank for each of the cities your locations are in. Submitting to local directories and building citations can also help, keep the NAP consistent. While not all NAPs need to be linked but mentions must be done consistently in order to provide value. You should also try optimizing landing pages on your site by including keywords along with your city/region in areas like title, headings, alt tags, URLs, and copy.

Online reviews also send necessary signals that not only help with local search and organic results, but with properly managed reviews that have respectable ratings will see more clicks, and those user actions also have influence on your visibility and rankings. Also, online reviews not only reflect the customer experience, but they are trusted almost as much as personal recommendations, and sometimes appear where your website might not. For local search, which represents almost half of the daily queries on Google, the 3-pack often appears above organic results and is mostly driven by reviews and ratings.

 


 

Ryan Phillips – bioclarity.com

Ryan works with BioClarity, a new health-science start-up based out of San Diego.

LocalBusiness Schema Markup
When optimizing your business’ website in hopes to get into or to stay in the local three pack of Google’s organic search results, it is important that you are implementing the proper schema markup. Although there are many different types of schema markup you can use on your site, when dealing with a business that has a physical location, like a restaurant or bar, the correct schema to use is “LocalBusiness” schema. LocalBusiness schema helps search engines quickly gather the business’ name, address, phone number, hours. Making it easy for Google to collect this information, can help increase your chances of achieving a spot in the local three pack, as well as improve your overall local ranking signals.

 


 

Bryan Clayton – yourgreenpal.com

Bryan Clayton CEO of GreenPal.

There is no better local SEO signal than local reviews… But how do you get them?

I’m Bryan Clayton CEO of GreenPal which is best described as Uber for Lawn Care.

90% of our new customers come through local search engine optimization.

It’s been my experience success in local search it’s kind of like dieting and requires a daily diligence.

One of the unique things me and my cofounder do is “Reviews Saturdays”

We spent an hour each Saturday reaching out to customers that week that we know had a good experience and ask them if they would leave they a review for us on one of the major review sites.

We look at their customer details and if they have a dog or cat listed on their account we will send them a cat nap or a dog bone, or we will send them a GreenPal T-shirt to thank them for sharing their experience.

We’ve been doing to six months since we have been doing it we’ve noticed rankings improved on a local level on each of the nine cities that we are live in.

Saturday’s work best because folks are home and in a pleasant mood, and It’s a great way to grind out reviews which is 25% of the local search game in my experience.

 


 

Jonathan Alonso – ubreakifix.com

Marketing Manager @ uBreakifix.com

On Page SEO

In order to rank on the local 3-pack on site content is valuable for Search Engine Optimization, try to make sure that you have good local content on your website, Local photos are also important, You want to make sure to show off your expertise and their experience when doing business with you.

Look into implementing Schema.org ( Rich Snippet ) to your business Data. It lets Google know what your data is on your website

Consistency

NAPW ( Name, Address, Phone & Website ) Consistency Matters, Make sure your business info is the same within all of your directories. If you have “dr” instead of “drive” on your website make sure to have a consistency of “dr” everywhere.

Business Descriptions are important, Make sure to create a description that highlights your business and what you can offer them, Mention keywords organically not stuffed and robotic

Directory listings/Search

Is not only about the amount of directories your business information appears in, It is also about the quality of it, Look for local directories that legitimizes your business in Google’s eyes, Chamber of Commerce, Business clubs, Non profits, Schools, Organizations, Malls ( Simon.com ) all of directories of their local business. See how you can join some and have your business information included.

Search for specific directories that match your business segment, For example if you do Real Estate, then try to get your business on trulia, zillow, compass. It needs to match your business vertical to gain success here.

Get yourself on the top directories and directory aggregates the list is below by importance

  • Facebook.com ( Local Business Page )
  • Acxiom.com
  • Bing Places
  • Yelp
  • Apple Maps (mapsconnect.apple.com/business/ui/listPlaces )
  • insiderpages.com
  • Yellowpages
  • superpages
  • Factual
  • citysearch
  • infogroup
  • insiderpages
  • hotfrog

 


 

John Caiozzo – seoinc.com

Senior SEO Analyst

Based off my experience, the top 4 ranking signals for Local Search are: offsite/linking signals, Google My Business information, on-page optimization, and local citations. Links in general are one of the top rank factors for any search query, but are especially important for local search in establishing yourself as an expert in your space. Links from local websites and organizations (for ex. city chamber of commerce) are particularly valuable for Local Search. Having a complete and optimized Google My Business profile and taking advantage of all the features available to your business type will also go a long way in local search. In terms of on-page optimization it’s important to make sure you have pages with quality content for all the services and products you offer – you might also want to compare your site with your competitors to see if they have any services or products listed that you don’t. Finally, local citations are still a relatively large factor for local search – make sure you have consistent information across all the major local directories (Bright Local has a comprehensive list of top citations by business category) and be sure there are no duplicates.

 


 

Chris Gregory – dagmarmarketing.com

The founder and a managing partner of DAGMAR Marketing, a local SEO company based in Jacksonville, Florida. The agency’s work was recently recognized in Search Engine Land’s international search marketing competition, garnering the Best Local SEO Initiative award in 2016.

1) If you are one of the lucky ones with a keyword in your business name, we’ve seen this outrank other Google My Business profiles with stronger signals.

2) Maintain data consistency across the web for your name, address, phone and website. If you have moved or changed your phone number recently, this can cause data issues online. Google will look at what is in the GMB profile and cross-reference it with other online data sources because they don’t want users to call a wrong number or go to the wrong address. This is a strong Maps ranking signal often overlooked.

3) Localize signals on the website. You will want to wrap your name, address and phone number in Schema.org markup so search engines know this is the official address of the business website. It should match the GMB profile.

4) If you do business in more than one city, buildout robust local pages for each that include language that shares what is unique to the city such as directions, famous landmarks and so forth. Have a creative writer blend the value of your services with the uniqueness of each location into a coherent page.

5) Obtain local links, such as Chambers of Commerce, and other local businesses and non-profit agencies. For example, a local fishing charter website can ask for a link on local realtor, hotel and resort websites, to be listed as a destination for out of town people.

 


 

John Lincoln – ignitevisibility.com

CEO Ignite Visibility, Teacher UCSD San Diego, CA

Location-Based Keywords
Use the location-based keywords within your content, title tags, meta descriptions, Google My Business Page, images, header, and social media profiles. With the right keywords, you’ll generate higher conversions, whether online, physical store visits, or phone calls.

On-Site SEO for Local Results
Your website needs to have unique location factors to drive search engines and website visitors to your physical business location. Optimize your site just as you would for your national SEO strategy, but place a stronger emphasis on your business’s contact information, business hours, city, and state.
If you have more than one location, create a separate landing page for each location. Add Local Business Schema to optimize your local landing pages and include links to location-specific local assets, which can be done by installing the G+ Widget or link

 


 

Nicole Grodesky – powerdigitalmarketing.com

Digital marketing specialist and blogger with almost a decade’s worth of industry experience.

The most important thing is to have a claimed Google My Business account that is completely filled out with appropriate business categories, images, hours, and a business description. It’s also really important for you to have your business Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) be consistent with your GMB account, website, and other local directory listings like Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, etc. What we’re seeing as far as getting immediate results is to build 15-20 local citations a month plus submit your business information to data aggregators like Neustar Localeze, InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Factual.

 


 

Meg Raiano – recreativeagency.com

Managing Director of a Connecticut based Marketing & Advertising agency called reCreative.

The best way to get your company to the top of Google Maps is to verify and optimize your listing. Once you verify the address by requesting a postcard, you need to make sure you’re creating SEO rich content for your business that also includes reviews. Google weighs listings with optimized content and positive reviews more heavily than those without. Adding photos and creating weekly content for your Google My Business page will also help to drive your listing upward.

Based on the new Google My Business update, you should also focus on all the newness that Google has to offer. New GMB websites, chat options, and more. By using the tools that Google provides, they will be more likely to weigh your page more heavily within SERPs.

 


 

Justin Knott – intrepy.com

President, Intrepy Healthcare Marketing

The most critical ranking factors to get you in the Google three pack are a claimed and completed Google My Business profile, including: NAP (name, address, phone), categories, keywords, photos, hours, etc. filled out. Once that is complete focusing on generating high quantities of high quality reviews will go the longest way in showing up in local 3 stack search results. Especially if you are in a highly competitive local industry with lots of competition around ex. pizza place in Chicago. Google is going to look to reviewers to tell them which place they should recommend first based on the experience of other. A bonus is if these people leaving reviews are taking it to the next level and adding action shot or photos of your place of business.

So to review: claim & complete your Google My Business profile completely and then turn your sites on procedures and strategies to grow your reviews. Do that and you are well on your way squeezing into the coveted “3 pack” on Google.

 


 

Rob Parker – acmemarketing.net

Senior SEO Analyst, ACME Marketing

The current top techniques for getting into the Local Pack on Google searches really reflect Google’s desire to promote websites that offer a good experience to users. First off, the proximity of your business location to the searcher is key. Google is favouring signals that contribute to a personalized experience for the user, so ranking businesses that are close to them are a high priority. Next, make sure you have the most accurate categories associated with your Google My Business (GMB) listing. This will help Google place you in searches like “find the nearest gas station” or “find Italian restaurants close to me.” On that note, since you can’t put a description in the GMB list anymore, try to include a main keyword in the business name you list on GMB. This will give Google a bit more information to work with when pinpointing nearby businesses in a specific category. On the picky side, Google also likes all of your citations to match, ensuring that users won’t be trying to find you at an old location or phone number. That means you need to make sure the formatting of your address and contact information on your GMB listing matches instances on your website and other top sites, like directories. Finally, you can really get the edge over the competition with more inbound links from sites with domain authority and good reviews on your GMB listing.

 


 

Kevin Drolet – cthru.media

Kevin is the owner of cThru Media, a San Diego-based full service media agency with a focus on Digital Media.

In my experience, the most important factor in ranking in local search is the proximity of your address to the point of search. The issue with this is that, you’re unable to influence it or optimise your listing for it

Therefore, the most important local search ranking factor that you are able to influence is ensuring the information on your Google My Business listing is all present, correct and well-optimised. This means making sure that all of the store’s products and services are listed. It also means that your business title needs reflect the actual store name and is not stuffed with keywords. Much like organic search rankings, your store can be penalised if it’s deemed as over-optimised or spammy.

 


 

Daniel Ali – myquickstartup.com

Vice President / Project Manager for MyQuickStartup.com

Ranking locally in the snack pack of Google is no easy feat. If you or your client are located in a busy, high competition area (example: NYC), there is a lot of work involved. However, there are some steps you can take to make sure you have the right foundation. Firstly, on page optimizing is a must. If you have a WordPress site, install something like Yoast SEO as it will save you a ton of time. Next check online directories to make sure all of your contact info is correct and accurate, if it isn’t contact the company to fix it. Next, build more local citations or go to a website like Fiverr.com to find someone to get this done for you for cheap. Make sure the person has good reviews, its not worth the headache of getting bad SEO work done! I’ve also found digital press releases, especially for a grand openeing, to be especially useful in local rankings.

 


 

Rob Watson – clicktosale.co.uk

Rob is an experienced Digital Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, AdWords and Social Media. He helps businesses – mainly in the UK – to generate leads and sales from their websites.

There are many factors that go in to ranking well on Google’s ‘Map Pack’ for local results. What strikes me is that whilst most people know the basics like good local links, setting up a Google My Business profile, and good on-page SEO, many people miss some really simple aspects of Local SEO.

The first one is around reviews. Google doesn’t allow you to incentivise reviews, but if you just make it really simple for people to leave you one, that will get you a lot more reviews. For example, you could have a quick pdf flyer to give out to customers explaining how to leave you a review, a page explaining the review process with a link through to your profile, or even provide customers with a link that opens up Google My Business at the review page.

Secondly, people don’t do enough with categories. Look at a few competitors and see if they’re using categories that you’re not using. You should pick the most obvious category as your primary one, but for many businesses there might be 5 or 6 categories that you can legitimately claim to be in.

The third simple area that’s often neglected is a complete Google My Business profile. Google claims that profiles with more photos get more views, yet many have only the bare minimum, and some of these may be stock photos. Make sure you get photos in all the main categories (interior, exterior, staff etc) and if the photos are taken at your premises, they will likely be geo-tagged by your camera as being taken at your premises. This gives another small signal to Google, that you genuinely operate from that location.

Local SEO is getting tougher as competitors get smarter, so it’s crucial to have a detailed plan and keep refining and testing.

 

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